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Helping the mountains roar again


24 September 2018

Just north of Napier, near Lake Tutira, you’ll find the beautiful Maungaharuru Range, with Boundary Stream Mainland Island at its heart.

The name Maungaharuru translates into English as ‘the mountain that rumbled and roared’. This was due to the range once being home to millions of birds, and when flocks took off or landed it sounded like the mountain was roaring.

To encourage the mountain to roar again, a collaborative large-scale ecological restoration project, Poutiri Ao ō Tāne, between Maungaharuru Tangitū, Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Hineuru, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research, the Aotearoa Foundation and the local community and businesses was born. The name Poutiri Ao ō Tāne is a reference to embracing the sacred knowledge of Tāne, the god of forests and birds.

We spoke to Wendy Rakete-Stones, Project Leader – Project Leader – Poutiri Ao ō Tāne to find out more about the project.

“Poutiri Ao ō Tāne’s long-term vision is to restore the cloak of Papa-tū-ā-nuku (Earth Mother), the 'Mountain to Sea' ecosystems of this region,” explains Wendy. “We want to create a safe place where native species can once again flourish on the Maungaharuru Range.”

Wendy says that the project is already achieving this goal through habitat restoration, animal pest control, species reintroductions, research, and community engagement.

“It provides a fundamental step to engage communities in conservation,” says Wendy. “It’s a shift away from preserving biodiversity in uninhabited and isolated forests towards more grassroots conservation which sees an integration of environmental, social, and economic values in the human-occupied landscape. More recently Cape to City, sister project to Poutiri Ao ō Tāne, has also joined this kaupapa.”

In addition to reintroducing species absent from the area, learnings from the predator control programme are being applied to Poutiri Ao ō Tāne’s sister project Cape to City, in turn developing a model to be applied across the whole region.

Wendy points out that there also needs to be a multi-pronged approach, so that the focus isn’t just on predator control and killing pests, but includes habitat and species restoration, community engagement and research. The outcomes of this approach will be enduring and beneficial to the environment and the community. Poutiri Ao ō Tāne has taken this approach and has been trialling it since 2011.

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